Blogging is cool, isn’t it? I’ve enjoyed reading your blog posts each day, and getting a glimpse into your inner worlds and getting to see the world through your eyes. I’ve traveled to different parts of the world through your blogs and pictures. I’ve seen the past. Got glimpses of the future. And we’re just 11 days into the project.

Blogging is a whole different animal when you step outside of the commercial or stylised norm and use the medium, instead, as a means of self-expression and exploration. And it’s yours. Facebook doesn’t own it. Twitter doesn’t own it. You don’t grovel at the feet of the almighty algorithms or the whims of some benevolent tech god. It’s your platform to publish whatever you want, however, you want. It’s your platform.

 

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Perspective, always!

A post shared by Clay Lowe (@soulcruzer) on

I don’t know if you take advantage of the WordPress syndication tools or not, but you should if you don’t. The goal is to publish everything from your blog and then syndicate out to all of these other platforms. At present, I’m only automatically syndicating out to Twitter. Facebook (at their whim) turned off the API to allow you to automatically syndicate to profile, but you can still auto-syndicate out to your page if you have one.

I still need to fix the IndieAuth plugin so I can then start tweeting from the blog as well. There are a few other apps I need to tweak as well so that I’m totally pushing out from the blog.

I know that this sort of self-publishing isn’t necessarily a suitable setup for people who’s blogs are a commercial marketing tool. That’s a whole other animal with a different set of rules and structures and measures. If commerce is your aim, then my suggestion would be to have two blogs – a personal blog and a commercial blog. Ha. I know those taking part in this 30-Day challenge are probably thinking it’s hard enough finding the time to post to one blog, let alone two!

But your commercial blog will have a different purpose and therefore a different rhythm. I’m about to start another blog to support my digital learning aspirations and my current workplace learning practice. On there I will niche. On there I will be much more focused.

Anyway, I hope you all are enjoying #BlogPals19

C

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Why stand on a silent platform? Zach de la Rocha yells out on Township Rebellion.

And I agree. This is the greatest time in history to get your voice heard around the world in whatever medium suits your fancy. Do you want to write? Start a blog. Do you want to make films or have your own TV show? Start a YouTube Channel. Do you like radio? Start a podcast! Do you want to be a photographer, a fitness model, artist, illustrator? Start an Instagram account. Do you Want to be a musician? Start a Soundcloud account. There is no limit on your means of self-expression.

I wrote my first blog post on the 8th of February 2004. There was a real sense of community then, in the blogging world, mainly because it was new and people were still trying to figure out blogging’s potential. It was more personal then too. But once someone figured out they could make money from blogging, the game started to change. And once people got more comfortable with e-commerce (giving they’re credit card detail over the internet) the game changed for good.

Then social media came along and like TV killed the radio, social media killed personal blogging.

Commercial blogging still managed to thrive. The likes of Huffington Post, Tech Crunch, The Dredge Report, Gawker (now defunct) and others like them, kept blogging alive, albeit with a different cultural flavour. The days of the solo blogger (alone in his or her room) bleeding their heart and soul out into the Internet were gone. The CopyBlogger crowd moved in with the promise that if you niched well and nailed your SEO, then you could quit your day job and be a full-time blogger. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

If you wanted to blog for the love of blogging, you took your game over to social media ‘cause that’s where the eyeballs are. And that’s fine too. But why not write from your own blog and syndicate out, which is what the IndieWeb Movement is partially about. There’s also the fight against having your data harvested and sold to any bidder and then fed back to you via algorithms designed to make you buy more goods and services that (in a Fight Club sort of way) you probably don’t need.

If you have a blog that is sat gathering dust because you fell for the rhetoric that blogging is dead or because you thought (in reference to social media) if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and left for the promise-land of ‘likes’ and ‘hearts’ and ‘rewteets’, then dust it off, and join the IndieWeb Movement. Your blog deserves it!

Side note: Most blogs, these days, look the same -clean, neat, colour coordinated. Remember when they used to look like this?

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Travel reminds me that people are pretty much all the same regardless of where you go or what country you’re in. Everywhere we’re trying to survive and that breaks down to 3 things – feeding, fucking, and fighting. Everything else is just a sideshow or a way to kill time between the 3 F’s.

These are the kinds of thoughts I have at 3:30 in the morning.

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My journey to Madrid was not a direct one. For some reason, nothing was flying out of the UK and going directly to Madrid. My only options were to fly to Frankfurt or fly to Brussels and then onto Madrid. I have a soft spot in my heart for Germans. I lived in the country for 3 years. I grew fond of the people and the place and the culture. Plus I love pretzels like the Germans love pretzels. And since I had an hour layover in Frankfurt I thought I’d seize the opportunity to grab a couple of them:

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So it’s day one of #blogpals19 and because I’m not one for always choosing the easy route, I didn’t hesitate to jump into this challenge knowing that my first 4 days of the challenge were going to be a challenge because I’m away from my home base on a business trip!

But that doesn’t matter. It’s a great opportunity to practice my mobile blogging chops. I’m using my iPhone 8+ to type this out as I taxi down the runway on LH 1112 to Madrid. I love having a small computer in my hand capable of being a one-stop media creation shop. I can write. I can record and edit audio. I can shoot and edit video. I can take pictures and edit them. I can broadcast live video and live radio. In short, I have the means of total media production in the palm of my hand. I know I’m not saying anything you haven’t heard already, but man this stuff excites the hell out of me. I get fired up every time I think about the power we carry around in our pockets!

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We’ve done a pretty good job of domesticating humans. Law and order are prevalent in most of the civilised world. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Frankfurt or Madrid people, on the whole, behave the same – we greet each other, respect each other’s space and property. We stand up and sit down when we’re told. We stand in line. We pay for goods and services. We get up, go to work, watch a little TV, watch the news, complain about politics. We eat. We sleep. And we get up and do it all again the next day, until we eventually die.

We are well trained domesticated primates.

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The only thing that separates us from the beasts is our imagination and wild ass capacity for creativity. So don’t be a robot. Create stuff. Express yourself in you’re own unique way.

The world doesn’t need another automaton.

It needs YOU – in all your beauty and glory.

Go make something!

I felt compelled to stay up late watching 80s videos. So many teenage memories flooded through my half-baked brain. Not such a great idea when you’re on the backside of 50 wondering where all the time went. Watching these videos reminded me of time when all I wanted to do was rule the world. Back then, you couldn’t tell me nothing. I knew how everything worked. I had it all figured out.

Of course now I’m not so sure anymore.

I picked up a copy of Hadley Freeman’s book, Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies (And Why We Don’t Learn from Movies and More. I wanted to see what lessons I should have learned, which now elude me.

Last night, I turned to Beverly Hills Cop for some answers. Really I just wanted some light entertainment and BHC is easily my favourite Eddie Murphy movie. But there were lessons:

  • Don’t always play by the rules
  • Rules were made to be broken
  • Use you intution
  • Heart over head
  • And sometimes, the ends do justify the means!

Today, one of my normal walks turned into a little mini-adventure on account of the floods produced by all this rain we’ve had over the past few days.

It started off innocent enough:

Then it heated up a little:

And finally it came to this:

All in a good Sunday.

I have the crew together who are doing a 30 Day blogging challenge with me that starts on 4 November. The folks include:

Cathy – my long-time blogging buddy

Zoltan – Mr bassplayer extrodinaire

Aimee – my collaboration partner in crime

Dave – my Twitter buddy

Raine – a fellow trainer who goes waaaaay back to our MLHSBC days!

So we have some blogging newbies, some veterans, and some inbetweeners. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

 

I played PUBG with Jeremy last night. It’s been 142 days since I last played. 1) where does the time go? 2) Shows you how much of a gamer I am!???? I like games, but always feel guilty if i whittle away hours playing them. In my head, I keep thinking how many pages I could have read in those hours I spent playing? I know games are important too, but it’s hard to shake the notion that games, while pleasant to play, are time wasting activity.

Which brings me to Monday morning and thinking how can I be ridiculously productive today?

A couple of responses I got back from the crowd:


and

and

Over the weekend, I worked through the question of how to be as close to the open web as possible, and by that I mean how to extract myself from the walled gardens like Facebook and Twitter and all the rest, and use open sourced software and play in places whose business model isn’t driven by algorithms that exploit my personal data?

Micro.blog is one solution. I have a presence there. Also @TheEinarkist recommended Riot (which I’ve yet to sign up for) and PeerTube and Mastodon. I’ll explore all of these at some point. I have set up a micro.blog account if you want to check that out. The community there have been very welcoming so far.

All of this is closely related to my return to personal blogging versus blogging as a content marketing channel for business. The reason I started blogging in the first place was a channel for self-expression. Then the idea that you could make money from blogging kept oozing in through the seams as marketers began to dominate the social web bent on convincing people that even the Average Joe or Jane could quit their jobs and become full-time bloggers. I’ve always been more about readership than money (although a couple of pennies would be nice to pay for hosting and stuff, so click on those darn amazon affiliate links when I post them!). The hook that I always bit on the marketing line was “if you niche they will come.” Not fully realising until now that as a personal blogger, my niche is me!

Personal blogging is blogging about the things you care about and find interesting. And maybe along the way, you’ll bump into people who care about the same things. So that is where I’m at now with all this blogging stuff – writing about the stuff that interests me and connecting with other bloggers who are into the same thing.

Which brings me back to the open web. I’m on a hunt to find other bloggers and such who are outsiders like me. Drop me a link to your blog in the comments.

1

I’ve been in a kind of holding pattern over the last several days as I process all the words I’ve been reading about content curation and blogging and the state of blogging in general. I’m gearing up of course for another crack at this blogging thing as a central point of contact on the social web. There’s a retraction happening away from newsfeeds on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Facebook itself is moving away from the feed and re-routing people’s attention toward groups and communities. WhatsApp, another Facebook-owned product, is on the rise as more people are starting WhatsApp groups and using the group as the social space to connect with friends and like-minded people. Public newsfeeds have become toxic, filled with political strife, hate, and just general nonsense (that’s an extreme generalisation, I personally spend a lot of time on Twitter, not so much Facebook, scrolling my various newsfeeds…my theory is this, the quality of your newsfeed is directly proportional to the quality of the updates you find in your feed. if you don’t like what someone is posting, unfollow them!)

What dominates the web and what does that say about us as a collective species. A quick scan down the list of the top 50 blogs and you’ll find that it’s dominated by fashion and beauty, politics, celebrity gossip and entertainment, tech, gaming, travel, and marketing-oriented blogs. What about the rest of the human experience? Yes, if you look in the right places and search with intent, you can find blogs on all sorts of things, but they fall out of centre mass and therefore not “popular.”

Enter Facebook, which seems to be the homepage of the Internet these days, much like AOL was back in the day. According to the stats, Facebook has enough people on it that if it was a country, it would be like the 4th or 5th largest country in the world! That’s a lot of people.

In our time-strapped, busy lives, Facebook seemingly makes things easy. You can just go there and news and information comes to you (served up by Facebook’s algorithms of course, which feeds you more and more of what Facebook says you like, and occasionally for sinister purposes of its own, what Facebook wants you to see!)

I don’t really like Facebook. I’m there out of FOMO. I’m mean 5 billion people are there, something must be going on, right?!

But for finding interesting things to read, watch, and listen too, I use other sources mainly Twitter, Feedly, Start me, Flipbook, my own listening engine set-up, and LinkedIn. I post a lot, i.e. add to the noise on Facebook, but I don’t source my reading material there.

How’s this for strap-line for the blog:

a non-niched, hypertext adventure blog

So here we are in our modern culture where experience is always secondhand, planned and described by someone else in advance. Occasionally, we have an authentic experience, but even then it’s tainted by our self-consciousness and the stuff that’s been shoveled in from birth. We are doomed to an imitation of life, caught in Baudrillard’s  Sumulcra and Simulation.

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Poor man, he had no fate. 

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I do sometimes feel like my life is a caricature of what a real-life could be. These kinds of conversations don’t usually go down well in the middle of the afternoon while you’re choking down a turkey pretzel sandwich. Thank god for the coffee though. Coffee makes life bearable, most of the time. Of course, I’m exaggerating here, but that happens when you’re riding a train of lies you can’t jump off of. If you believe art is truth, you’d be wrong; art is a lie that enables you to recognise the truth. Whenever I try to go for the truth straight, I inevitably miss the mark. I have to rely on this blog of half-truths to get me by. Good thing I’m not attached to my identity, that would be a recipe for disaster.

“Life is like a dream and, although we appear to be separate individuals in the life-dream, in reality, there is one awareness dreaming itself to be everyone and everything, and meeting itself in all its various forms. “

They’ll burn you at the stake if you believe that. For sure as shit, the one thing unconscious people hate, it’s being told they are unconscious.

4

Trump is definitely not playing with a full deck, but then we knew that already.  It’s beyond scary some of the things he’s been up to lately. But you know, from down here in the mud, he’s not alone in history as a mentally deranged ruler with the power of life and death at his fingertips. History is filled with them. Or maybe the guy is just misunderstood and he’s thinking:

“All right, they think I’m the bad kid. I’ll show them how bad I can be. “

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Maharaj’s questioner asked: if on all sides I hear that freedom from desire and inclinations is the first condition of self-realisation, does it mean I should abstain from doing anything? After all ignorance of oneself causes desires and desires perpetuate ignorance. A circle you cannot help but get caught up in, and almost impossible to escape.

M’s answer: you cannot! What goes on must go on. if you stop suddenly, you will crash.

I seem to crash like every other month.

The crash last until I remember it’s not worth yearning to live in a world you already live in.

Getting meta on you for a second.

One of the things I’ve been working on of the past couple of weeks is my blogging workflow. Admittedly I’ve been focusing on the Newsletter (which, by the way, if you haven’t signed up for it, you should. I’ve renamed it Eclectically Curios to reflect where I’m going with the whole “learn something new everyday” motif). I’m 23 issues in and feel relative happy with the direction it’s taking.

Now to integrate the newsletter and the blog…

Because, despite all of the rhetoric about blogging being dead, I believe the blog is alive and well – for some. And yeah, while the good old days of personal blogging, where everyone pretty much just bled their hearts out onto the screen (they do that on social media now), may be gone, blogging is not dead, it has just evolved.

And I believe it’s about to evolve again as more and more articles and blogposts are throwing the question out there, is social media dying? Plus a number of high profile bloggers back in the day, who jumped ship for social media, are now hinting at returning back to personal blogging in attempt to recapture the blogosphere of the late 90’s early 2000’s.

Of course there is talk that people are turning to closed networks on platforms like WhatsApp, which last year broke the 1.5 billion active monthly users mark. And there are others like Messenger and Telegram, and for the more techie, security caution types, there’s Wire. Of course, being the geek I am, I have a presence on all of them.

I like the questions and conclusions that long-time blogger, Jason Kottke lays out:

Maybe we need to ask ourselves, what was it that we wanted from the blogosphere in the first place? Was it a career? Was it just a place to write and be read by somebody, anybody? Was it a community? Maybe it began as one thing and turned into another. That’s OK! But I don’t think we can treat the blogosphere as a settled thing, when it was in fact never settled at all. Just as social media remains unsettled. Its fate has not been written yet. We’re the ones who’ll have to write it.

Ok, so back to the blogging newsletter things. Knowing that I have limited time (don’t we all), I have to sort out how the blog and the personal newsletter play nicely together without either taking up too much time and the other dying of neglect.

My thinking at the moment is to have the personal newsletter take the lead role and the blog, the supporting role. I haven’t quite worked it out completely, but my initial thoughts are the newsletter is a more personal link from me to you, while the blog is my Internet interface, where, like Rome, all of my connections lead to.

Anyway, that’s the state of affairs for whatever this is that I’m doing.

By the way, I’m writing this in MarsEdit 4.0, a web editing app that allows my to create my posts on or offline. I’m trying it out as a part of nailing down my workflow. The two main features that I like is the ability to compose blogposts in something other than the browser or copying and pasting from Word. The other neat feature is the Safari extension that lets you create a post from an article i’m reading, like what I do with the Revue powered newsletter. That should save me a load of time in my seek, sense, and share mode.

“I wish the real world would stop hassling me.”Matchbox Twenty

Ok, here’s goes the start of my 30-day blogging challenge.

Why? For no reason other than wanting to start daily blogging again. I miss it as a platform for keeping up with myself. Like the old days. Plus I was inspired by Seth godin’s post yesterday. He blogs every day and he’s always recommending that people should blog every day for their own sanity if nothing else. Yesterday he gave a shout out to 5 bloggers he reads every day who have just posted their 1000th blog post.

I use to blog a lot – my soulcruzer blog has 1,020 posts. And I have several other blogs out there in various states of disarray – radio warwickshire, havana cafe sessions, wayseeking, and a tumblr blog. There are long gaps to be sure. But I keep coming back to blogging. Then I disappear again, distracted like everybody else in an endless sea of scrolling newsfeeds. You know the culprits – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn – to name a few.

It’s laziness on my part, plus FOMO, and being a hapless praise seeking monkey. Dopamine tastes good.

Add on top of that, nobody reads blogs anymore.

No matter! I’m going to drive on anyway – at least for 30 days on this site.

I’m calling it my learning blog, partly because I’m trying to map out my brain and partly because I want a place to rap about my passion for learning and technology. I’ll leave the poetry and drawing stuff to my soulcruzer blog and the spiritual stuff to my wayseeking blog and the stuff that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere, I’ll dump on my Tumblr (which I think is still a pretty good platform, although forgotten or abandoned by the mainstream).

Oh and just a side note:

Spotify has me pegged this week. Just about every song on the Discovery playlist is striking a chord with the inner workings of my mind right now.

Sometimes algorithms do get it right.


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We learn best when we share and debate ideas. I value your perspective. Feel free to continue the conversation anytime: claylowe187@gmail.com

The blogging game has changed so much since I first started blogging back in 2003. Blogging these days has been relegated to the content marketing game where folks are pimping their wears trying to position themselves as thought leaders in the hopes that they can either become social media influencers or marketers disguised as “passionate” experts in something. As Tom Critchlow explains

…much content on the web is designed for scale, for sharing, for gloss and finish. It’s mass media, whether it’s made by a media company or an individual acting like one. So when people think of blogging their natural reference point is create something that looks like the mass media they’re consuming. Content designed for pageviews and scale.

That’s big B blogging.

I’m much more interested in small b blogging.

Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network. Small b blogging is writing content designed for small deliberate audiences and showing it to them. Small b blogging is deliberately chasing interesting ideas over pageviews and scale. An attempt at genuine connection vs the gloss and polish and mass market of most “content marketing”.

It was Seth Godin who inspired me to move back in this direction. I listen to his akimbo podcast episode on blogging.  Seth has been at the game for something like 16 years without a break and pretty much sticking to the same format. Seth is much more into go for the small audience directly and then let that handful of “true fans” spread your work and your ideas for you because they love what you do and what to share it with their friends.

Here’s the episode if you want to listen to it:

Speaking of Seth, I feel moved to re-read Purple Cow. I’m feeling like being remarkable on some level.

The more you move the better you feel.

One of my intentions this year was to move more. I started off well, as you tend to do, but as T.S. Eliot wrote:

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

Now it’s time to shine some light back on the subject, get my ass in gear and move more!

And since movement was on my mind, I threw on my walking shoes and headed out the door and the Universe let me know it approved with this:

Some words from Thoreau:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#FF0000″ class=”” size=””]I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.[/perfectpullquote]

I’ve been living in the UK long enough to know that the weather is a moveable feast:

I’m leading a rear guard action to bring back the personal blog – the sacred space to rant and rave and be yourself and express yourself.

So look, if you’re thinking about starting a blog, do it! You can be up and running in minutes.  WordPress.com is free and so is blogger.com.  Personally I’d recommend WordPress.  If you already have a blog and it’s been gathering dust for months, pull that puppy out of the mothballs and get back in the game.  In either case, hit me up with a tag when you make your first or next post.

Viva la blog!

Here’s micro poem I wrote today: We Could Have Lived

And now it’s time to get on with the weekend.  The tunes are on.  The games are out.  I would say the beer is flowing, but I ran out of beer.  I may have to hit the hard stuff.  I have plenty of whisky and gin and vodka and ouzo and all sorts of other spirits on the top shelf (not that to shelf).

Soundtrack: